Despite all the efforts, US and Philippine Commonwealth forces manage to land on the island on February 28th, 1945. Onoda and four fellow soldiers decide to retreat in the jungle on the hills.
Although they came across leaflets dropped by planes and left behind by islanders announcing the end of the war, the Japanese soldiers decided to consider these hints as a hoax set up by the enemy and they continued to burn crop and rice fields and got involved in shootings with fishermen or police authorities. One soldier left the group in 1949 and surrendered to Filipino forces in 1950. Another soldier died in a shooting in 1954, shot by a search troop looking for the soldiers and his last compagnon got shot in 1972 while burning rice collected by farmers. The guerilla was still going on for them. On February 20th, 1974 Onoda meets a Japanese college dropout travelling the world who brings photos back of him with Onoda to Japan. Onoda was still refusing to surrender, waiting for orders from a superior officer. Tha Japanese government located Onoda's commanding officer, Major Taniguchi. He was living a quite life as a bookseller by then but he flew to Lubang Island on March 9th, 1974 to inform him of the defeat of Japan and ordered him to lay down his arms.
Lieutenant Onoda emerged from the jungle 29 years after the end of World War II, and accepted the commanding officer's order of surrender in his uniform and with his sword. Besides he was carrying his Arisaka Type 99 rifle still in perfect operating condition, around 500 rounds of amunition and a couple of hand grenades.
Despite the fact Onoda had killed around thirty Filipinos and engaged in several shootings with the local police, the very special circumstances were taken into account and he benefited a presidential pardon.
Amazingly enough Onoda is not the longest fighting Japanese soldier in WWII. Seven month later Teruo Nakamura was also recovered. He had been stationed on Morotai Island in Indonesia. This makes him the last Japanese holdout soldier of World War II. Congrats!
Upon return to the Japanese homeland, Onoda was treated as a hero, but had huge difficulties coping with his 'postwar' life in modern Japan. He even moved to Brazil for some time. Maybe he was feeling better at war...
Better don't fuck with the Japanese!! They have stamina...